At the ‘late to the party’ age of 43, and after many, many years of trying a lot of different things, I was gifted with the extreme joy and privilege to be a daddy. Every day I am grateful for what he teaches me, and I have to say, my three and a half year old never walks anywhere.Even if he is going to get underwear from his dresser drawer, he flat out runs! Why?
He has stuff to do! When he wakes up in the morning he rubs his little eyes and jumps out of bed, like he is in disbelief that he was sleeping and might have missed anything, excited to start his day. Okay, I know all parents of teenagers (and my own memories) tell me that this too shall pass, but for now, I watch in wonder and love.
It brings to mind a saying I have said for years and years, as I run up the stairs at the gym to my office (I pretty much never walk, ask anyone), “Never waste a chance to exercise.”
Every day we teach our body how to be. Our body is taking notes and there is no fudging the data. I avoid elevators. I park far away. I run up stairs. I avoid the escalator or the moving sidewalk at the airport. I carry heavy things. Every chance I get, I move, I ask my body to be strong and it responds because that is all the human body is designed to do – respond.
Years ago I played a lot of computer games and I watched a lot of TV. My body responded. I worked too much, slept too little, ate poorly and yup, my body responded. I was fat and sick.
Now that I am healthy and more vibrant at age 46 than I ever was at 30, I can honestly say that you have got to hustle! Trust me, gravity works and aging happens. It now requires more effort to stay fit and healthy than it did 16 years ago, but it still pays off big time!
In less than two weeks I will race in my third Ultraman Triathlon, the world championships. It is a three day event involving a 10 km swim and a 145 km bike on day one. Then a 217 km bike ride over a few mountain ranges on day two. Finally we run 84.4 kms on the Queen Ka’ahumanu highway in Kona Hawaii, which means black lava to the left, and right, and black asphalt underneath and an air temp of 30C degrees. Only 40 people are invited to this race each year, and you have to earn your spot. You have to hustle. You cannot fake it, or slide in, or pretend, because even if you manage to get in, the race will chew you up and spit you out on day one.
What I love about this event and others like it; is what it teaches. It teaches that hard work and dedication pay off. That every single day of training is like a deposit in a bank account, and on race weekend (Nov. 27th), I get to make strategic withdrawals. If I put in enough training, I will not go broke before the finish line.
Life is like that – if you work hard, stay fit and hustle, then things are physically easier when you age. No, it is not a guarantee, there aren’t any of those. But I do guarantee that if you are healthier, for as long as that lasts, things are easier; mood, energy, sleeping, eating, driving, walking, running – everything. Fitness improves everything and that is backed up by every study, ever.
So I urge you to hustle. Be a three-year-old. Attack life with joy! It is awesome and as adults we tend to forget that, so I hope this is a little reminder.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.